The month of November, which is the end of the Church’s liturgical year, is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. These are the people, perhaps our friends and relatives, perhaps people we have known well for a short time or just passing acquaintances, who have died yet must still atone for their sins committed here on earth before they are cleansed to perfection and thereby able to enter into the presence of God forever in Heaven.
Praying for the dead is a requirement of Christian charity.
It is one of the “works of mercy” for our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. I hope that when I die, people pray for me, and I hope when you die, someone prays for you.
Perhaps there are a few things you can do for your family this November to instill the practice of this virtue into your lives in a special and meaningful way, such as the below:
First, here is a short prayer that we pray at the end of every meal. After we have enjoyed each others’ company and also enjoyed the good food that God has given us, we thank Him for His gifts, including the blessing of being together as a family here on earth. Before we leave the table, we all say this prayer:
“We give You thanks, Almighty God, for these and all your gifts, You Who live and reign for ever and ever. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
The ending of that prayer is a shortened version of a prayer that you may want to add just for the poor souls during November:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Second, you may want to go to a cemetery during the month, perhaps several times, just to pray for the people who have no one to pray for them.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and we will meet each other in Heaven–we hope–so try to pray not only for those who are known to you, but also unknown to you now.
* Perhaps those babies who never were given the chance to be born to see their mothers and fathers?
* Perhaps those older people who died without any relatives?
* Perhaps those unknown soldiers who died alone somewhere, and their bodies could never be found?
* Perhaps those who died long ago and were buried beneath old gravestones in those cemeteries you pass which are so lonely and forgotten?